Finally, a new post at Doveglion. Oscar has interviewed Roger Bonair-Agard about his poem, “contradiction: A Ghazal for L’il Wayne.” I am still getting my thoughts together on this poem, which I should do soon, because it’s on my syllabus for next week. I am glad to read Roger’s thoughts on specific word choice, on poetic form, and tradition.
We are still figuring out what to do with the Doveglion space. I have approached one poet about submitting a full length book manuscript. There are a few poets we have lined up to post here. It’ll happen really slowly. I am good with this. There is only so much time and energy I have. Again, I have been thinking about literary activism, about practicing generosity. That’s generally how I am thinking of the Doveglion space.
I’ve been doing events at a more manageable pace these last couple of weeks. Last weekend, I read at Eastwind Books of Berkeley with Maiana Minahal and Veronica Montes. Veronica’s write up is here. I think that was a good event; as she says, there was some nice thematic overlap between the three of us, presenting different takes on our own respective Filipina mythic women figures. In Legend Sondayo, Maiana has queered the narrative of Sondayo, and pulled the stories into a contemporary setting. In Angelica’s Daughters, Veronica moves back and forth between present day and the historical time of foremother Angelica. I am interested in the process of writing dugtungan, how each of five co-authors approaches and treats one another’s text. How to add and elaborate on someone else’s story or developing character. And can you even afford to be of the mindset that a particular story or character is yours (singular) or “someone else’s”? As for myself, I talked a bit about simply making stuff up in these poem-stories, as storytellers do, tell what they’ve been told with some degree of faithfulness, and then straight up invent stuff. After the reading, fellow writer Claire Light, who was in attendance, told me she started to think about Diwata as “speculative poetry,” which is something I hadn’t previously considered.
By now, many of you have read that Billy Collins article over at The Normal Transcript, in which he states:
“One of the reasons people don’t read as much poetry anymore is the fault of the poets,” he said. “It’s not the public’s fault. There’s an awful lot of bad poetry out there. I’d say about 87 percent of the poetry in America isn’t worth reading.”
I think a lot of us enter that space of negativity, and say similarly negative things about our genre, rather than underscoring the poetry we think is awesome, laudable, that which we recommend, teach, forward, support in any way that we can. How is such negativity actually helpful for poetry? How does this statement move people to search actively for good poetry? This is something Oscar and I have been talking about, partially in response to this Collins article, and generally because Haters piss me off.